Stamkos rules!

SHANE ROSS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:17 AM ET

The Tampa Bay Lightning surprised nobody by selecting Sarnia Sting centre Steven Stamkos with the No. 1 pick at the NHL draft last night at Scotiabank Place.

It was No. 2 that drew the most curiosity -- and anxiety. The Los Angeles Kings made one thing certain: It would be a defenceman, either Drew Doughty of the Guelph Storm or Zach Bogosian of the Peterborough Petes.

Doughty was thrilled when his name was called, not just because he's been a Kings fan since Wayne Gretzky's days, but so his family could finally relax.

"My mom was pretty stressed out and cried many times before the draft, so I'm glad it's over for her," said. Doughty.

It wasn't even the first time he's pulled a Kings jersey over his head.

"I have a 99 jersey and a (Kelly) Hrudey, and I have an L.A. Kings phone," he said.

Bogosian, meanwhile, will have to change his favourite team from the Senators to the Atlanta Thrashers, who chose him third overall.

SENS FAVOURITE TEAM

"I grew up only an hour and 15 minutes from Ottawa, so it's always been my favourite team," said the Massena, N.Y., native. "When I was 15, I got a chance to work out with Daniel Alfredsson and Wade Redden and that made me like them even more."

The anticipated run of defencemen continued at Nos. 4 and 5 , with Alex Pietrangelo of the Niagara IceDogs going to the St. Louis Blues and Luke Schenn of the Kelowna Rockets heading to the pressure cooker in Toronto after the Leafs traded up from No. 7 to No. 5.

Schenn said he is prepared to deal with the high expectations in Toronto, and the welcome he might get at Scotiabank Place.

"I don't care if they boo me in Ottawa," he said.

The first European went sixth overall, when the Columbus Blue Jackets selected Russian winger Nikita Filatov.

Boston College centre Colin Wilson (Nashville), Kitchener Rangers winger Mikkel Boedker (Phoenix), Windsor Spitfires centre Joshua Bailey (N.Y. Islanders) and Brampton Battalion centre Cody Hodgson (Vancouver) rounded out the top 10.

But the star of the draft was clearly Stamkos, who received the loudest cheers aside from Gretzky and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, but only because he announced the Senators made a trade with the Nashville Predators to move four spots up to No. 15, which they used to select Swedish defenceman Erik Karlsson.

Tampa wasted no time selecting Stamkos, who had 58 goals in 61 games for the Sting last year, with the top pick.

'I WAS SPEECHLESS'

"I was speechless when I heard my name," he said. "It's the ultimate dream come true."

After hugging and kissing what seemed like all 71 of his family and friends sitting around him, the Markham native gradually made his way onstage, where he saved one last embrace for his new owner and paycheque signer, Oren Koules. There will be more hugs to come if we pans out as well as Tampa's last No. 1 pick, Vincent Lecavalier, in 1998.

"That's the best situation for me ... I could learn so much from him," said Stamkos.


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